Ancestry.com

Ask Ancestry Anne: How DNA Solved a Murder Mystery

Posted by Anne Gillespie Mitchell on September 1, 2013 in Ask Ancestry Anne

Question: I use Family Tree Maker but have not yet posted my tree on Ancestry.com

I just ordered and received my DNA Kit and watched The Barefoot Genealogist’s (Crista Cowan) great YouTube videos on DNA. (Frequently Asked Questions about DNA: Part 1 and Part 2)

If I get my DNA results before I post my tree on Ancestry.com, can I still view cousins who might be related when I do post my tree?

Is my DNA report constantly updated with new information?

Thank you !!

Sharyl

Answer: Glad to hear you are using Family Tree Maker and taking advantage of all of the tips and tricks that Crista shares with our members on her Tuesday and Thursday show.

In short, as soon as you get your results and post a tree online we will start matching up cousins for you.  The order that happens doesn’t matter.  And we will show you potential cousins whether you have a tree or not.

And we constantly search out matches for you and send you an email when we find them.  We don’t want you to miss that next important clue.

But why should you post your tree? Because you never know what might turn up.  I had my DNA done very early on.  And I linked it to my tree.  And nothing.  But good things come to those who wait.

Sure enough, one day, I found this in my matches:

image01

Thomas Moore was my 4th great grandfather and the names Hamrick and Hopper stand out to me as being in that particular line as well.  So I contact Elizabeth, my new found cousin and we start talking about our lines.  Turns out she is a passionate genealogist and works closely with the Broad River Genealogical Society in Cleveland County, TN. (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ncbrgs/index.htm ).  (I admit I did a little happy dance!)

One person I’ve always been curious about in my tree is my 3rd great grandfather, Lansford Hopper.  I found him on an 1870 mortality record with murdered as his cause of death:

image02

So I asked if she might know about Lansford’s death.  She did:

Lansford  was my Great Grand Uncle. His sister Edith P. Hopper married John H. Harrill. Lansford served in the Civil War and came home. In the 1860-70′s here in the area where they lived, the men worked on building better roads. Lansford’s sister Edith had a son James Augustus Harrill, who was working also on the roads. Augustus and Lansford got into a fight, over what I don’t know, that wasn’t written in the family history. Anyway, Augustus hit Lansford with a shovel and killed him. On the day of Lansford’s funeral Augustus left, never to be seen or heard from again.

Now I know. And what a story!  I also have a new cousin, albeit it distant, that enjoys genealogy as much as I do.

I recommend you get your tree out there with your results as soon as you can.  If you don’t want to put your full tree out there, create a second tree with just your direct ancestors and link your DNA results to that.  It’s the best cousin bait there is.

Matching trees is just the beginning.  You just never know what you might find once you start comparing notes.

Oh, you don’t have a DNA kit?  Maybe you should get your ancestryDNA kit now.  And it’s never to early to start Christmas shopping! ;-)

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

About Anne Gillespie Mitchell
Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at Ancestry.com. She is an active blogger on Ancestry.com and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.

22 comments

Comments
1 DevSeptember 2, 2013 at 9:26 am

What is going on with the AncestryDNA site? I’ve attempted to go there for 3 days now, but all of my “matches” still show that “no tree linked”. Would love to be able to research some possible connections -but can’t when the website doesn’t work.

2 Kit KolendaSeptember 4, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I’ve asked this question of a lot of people and maybe somebody will give me an answer. I mistakenly went thru 23andme for my DNA and I want to know if there is anyway to get it connected to Ancestry.com and my family tree? My brother just did his DNA thru Ancestry.com and it’ll be connected to the tree.
I really don’t have the extra $99 to do another DNA so I’m hoping for a positive answer.
Thanks

Kit

3 Gloria GuestSeptember 4, 2013 at 5:18 pm

My husband has submitted his DNA through Ancestry with the hopes of breaking through some “brickwalls”. So far, no luck. Most matches probably go back to the Stone Age.

For those who are working with Family Tree Maker and keeping their Tree private, you do a disservice to those who show theirs – for your benefit. Very one-sided.

So, to Ancestry, don’t bother sending me notification of any match that does not care to share.

4 SharonSeptember 4, 2013 at 5:51 pm

I did my dads DNA a couple years ago. He was adopted and wantsed to find out who his father was before he died. Still haven’t learned a single thing.

5 Jeff ZupanSeptember 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm

#4 Kit -
23andMe was not a mistake. It is far and away a better service for DNA testing, especially in the area of the amount of information you receive and the tools provided to examine it. The only drawback is that most of their users get tested because of the health related features and don’t have much interest in genealogy, so you you won’t get a lot of response from your “matches”.
What you and your brother both need to do is upload your raw data files to http://www.gedmatch.com (it’s free). Tens of thousands of users of all three labs have done so and you can compare your results with all of them! They also have a lot of other tools for examining your results.

6 Angela PaschalSeptember 4, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Does getting DNA done tell who your ancestors whrere? For example, irish, polish, swedish, etc.

7 AlexHSeptember 4, 2013 at 6:33 pm

I was going to do the DNA thing but so far the only thing I can figure out that it does is that I can spend this money to find other people who have already put things up on this website (like Facebook, Classmates, LinkedIn etc.,). and if I KNOW that’s a cousin or whatever then “bingo” I’ve got a family tree. What if I don’t know who my parents’ siblings names were? What if I don’t know what my grandparents’ names were? What new information will doing this DNA or even Ancestory.com give me?

8 Karen ForehandSeptember 5, 2013 at 7:21 am

I have sent in my DNA test and waiting for the results. My mom does not know her father and I was hoping to maybe find some matches for him. Would it be better for me to have my brother test?

9 WeigelSeptember 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Why hasn’t people that know the answers to the previous questions help each other out? Like does doing a dna test find relatives or heritage if you know of only a few relatives? Is it worth doing, or a dead end? Is there anywhere else you can recommend to find info to get this started? Please help people!!!

10 Marilou JacobSeptember 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Is this the site to use to ask for some help from Ancestry Anne? I don’t see any other email address etc.

11 P.J. JhamesSeptember 5, 2013 at 4:53 pm

James Augustus Harrill may have moved on the day of Lansford Hoppers’ funeral but where did he end up? If you can track him down you may have 6.5 generations of relatives you don’t know about. Plus you may get the other side of the incident with the shovel.

12 Beth WalshSeptember 5, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Hi Anne, I’ve had my DNA done and have several questions. How do I link my dna results to other website to broaden my cousin searchnet? I have a relative that “disappeare”d in the early 1900′s. Can my DNA be compared to I upload my results to Police or other DNA aggergate sites?
Why do my results sometimes tell me to link my results to a family tree? I have my tree up on Ancestry.com.Is my DNA automatically linked? If not, what do I need to do?

Beth W
Claremont, Ca

13 GenevieveSeptember 5, 2013 at 9:34 pm

When I’m looking through my DNA results, I discard the ones for people who haven’t posted a tree. Just saying.

14 Susan WestSeptember 6, 2013 at 10:02 am

It would be nice if users posted a “public tree” if they are going to participate in DNA. I typically don’t chase “private trees”, just because I don’t have time right now. It would be nice to know before contacting someone if there is anything to contact them about.

15 LeahSeptember 6, 2013 at 11:05 pm

I did my DNA test. I actually found one verified cousin through the DNA match. I even found out that a girl I went to high school with was a distant relative! Please, if you do a DNA test, post your family tree! I get so many that say they’re likely matches, but I can’t see their tree to tell if they have matching family names! Yes, it does tell you countries or at least regions. They were pretty much what I expected, but with a small percentage that I was surprised about, and don’t know how it fits in. One really frustrating thing for me is that according to a note on Ancestry, Jewish DNA seems to get lots of false positives. I get long lists of people who match by my 40% Jewish ancestry, and almost none of them have matching family names. The few that have had similar names were unable to say if they were related or not because I just don’t know much about those ancestors. I hope this answered some questions for people!

16 Elly JohnsonSeptember 7, 2013 at 5:53 am

I have to agree with all the posts about the people that have no tree or are private. It is so irratating to get a notification and find no tree linked or private. Your wasting my time, and doing a disservice to building your tree.

17 EmSeptember 11, 2013 at 11:40 pm

For those of you criticizing people on here, I’m beginning to get a sense of why people would not want to share information with you. Particularly those of you criticizing others about having private trees or using Tree Maker.

Honestly, I think most people are just being cautious about their privacy and learning how to use this site to the best of their ability. Maybe they are still fleshing out their trees or they have a lot of people in their tree but it consists basically of guesswork, or have stopped using the site. Or perhaps they wish to ensure their privacy but are not aware of having multiple trees with different privacy settings.

So instead of being snarky and rude and making assumptions, you could try enlightening people without the attitude. And *maybe* they’ll consider being of some benefit to you.

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